It was a story that reeked of sex, power, greed and revenge. And New Yorkers couldn’t get enough of it.
Twenty-three years ago this month the city’s tabloids, and just about every other news outlet, were fixated on the salacious soap opera choreographed by Donald and Ivana Trump.
For three weeks, the story trumped all other news, including the historic end of apartheid in South Africa and release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years of imprisonment.
I spent hours staking out Trump Tower, chasing down the story and often chasing limousines, mic in hand, trying to get a sound bite from The Donald and his soon-to-be ex-wife. Trump seemed to love toying with the media and the headlines, including the one in the New York Post that quoted paramour Marla Maples declaring, “Best Sex I Ever Had.”
New Yorkers began to grow weary of the daily grind of new details. Some sided with Trump’s Czechoslovakian-born wife, saying, “She should take him to the cleaners.”
Others supported Trump, who they felt was a victim of greed. Trump got so much hype, that Playgirl Magazine offered him the centerfold. The War of the Trumps was the lead story almost every night. At one point, John Cardinal O’Connor intervened, urging calm and counseled both Trumps to pray.
The Trumps were critical of the media for lack of good taste and restraint. But that did nothing to calm the feeding frenzy.
I remember standing with The Donald the day he showed up at Manhattan Supreme Court flashing a $10 million check. It was part of the divorce settlement reached the day before. But Ivana’s lawyer was a no-show. He was in California.
Eventually the check got cashed. Mrs. Trump also got the 45-room mansion in Greenwich, Conn., $300,000 annually in child support, $350,000 in alimony and other perks.
And New Yorkers got sanity back in the news. It was a three-week diversion from the ravages of crime and homelessness that swept the city that winter of 1990.